New research about breast milk shows how much more there is to learn about this dynamic fluid. It contains over 200,000 different elements, each created specifically to nourish human babies. Can you imagine a label that listed 200,000 ingredients? Breast milk contains a long list of proteins, enzymes, all vitamins (except K) and over 30 oligosaccharides. It would be impossible to replicate human milk in a food lab.
The nutrients in human milk are even “packaged” specifically for our babies. Our milk contains lipase; it breaks the fat down into smaller globules so it can be better absorbed into the bloodstream. All humans, including babies use fat for energy and lipase makes the fat in human milk easier for babies to use. This is one of the reasons human milk is so good for premature babies, who need lots of energy and have an underdeveloped digestive system.
Fragile, premature babies are more likely to thrive when fed breast milk. When mother’s milk is not an option, donated breast milk is required. There is a shortage of donor breast milk, and only 40% of hospitals offer donor milk as an alternative to artificial milk (formula).
To raise awareness about the urgent need for breast milk donations Best for Babes, a non-profit organization, called on volunteers in 65 cities around the world to facilitate the Mother’s Day Miracle Milk Stroll: http://www.bestforbabes.org/miracle-milk-stroll
This event raises awareness about the urgent need for donor milk and connects moms with local milk banks and breastfeeding support organizations. To find the Mother’s Day Miracle Milk Stroll in your area click here: http://www.bestforbabes.org/miracle-milk-stroll/mothers-day-miracle-milk-stroll-locations
If you are in the Portland area find me in Wilshire Park on May 10th at 10am and visit the volunteers from the Northwest Mother’s Milk Bank, Nursing Mother’s Council and other local groups supporting breastfeeding mothers!
Helen Anderson, RN, CLE
Milkies founder and Fairhaven Health CLO (Chief Lactation Officer)
A premature infant born in 2014 has a better chance to survive and thrive than anytime in history. As medicine advances, we have access to better technology, closer monitoring for earlier intervention and treatment with targeted drugs with fewer side effects.
But no medical advancement protects a vulnerable preemie as well as breast milk. Prematurity can place a baby at risk for a dangerous condition known as Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). One of the most effective strategies for lowering the risk of NEC is to feed human milk.
According to neonatologists at the University of Iowa, it is important to provide small amounts of human milk starting as soon as possible, while the infant is being primarily fed intravenously, to prepare the intestines to digest normally. The researchers recommended human milk from a milk bank or donor can be used if mother’s milk is unavailable.
Donated breast milk is a crucial part of the plan of care for the smallest and most frail babies. But there is a constant shortage, there has never been enough donated milk to meet the demand. Donating breast milk is something many of us lactating moms can do to make a positive impact in the lives of families with a premature baby.
To find out more about your options for donating breast milk in your area, check out the Human Milk Bank of North America website at https://www.hmbana.org/
Helen Anderson, creator of Milkies, has donated over 200 ounces of her own breast milk and plans to continue to do so.
A freezer full of frozen breast milk for donation!
Research shows that dads offer crucial support in the breastfeeding journey. If a partner is not supportive of breastfeeding, moms are likely to quit when the going gets tough.
Project Breastfeeding is a new ad campaign to empower dads to take a more active support role in their baby’s nutrition. The project was inspired when Hector Cruz, a professional photographer and new father, helped his wife Nicole, through the early days of breastfeeding. The couple struggled through nipple pain and saw the lactation consultant together. Cruz saw how much a dad can help out and wanted to encourage other dads to step up and offer their partners the support they need.
According to their website, Project Breastfeeding is aiming to destigmatize public breastfeeding, educate men and empower women. It is refreshing to see a campaign that speaks to the influencers in a mother’s life, recognizing the many factors that are part of the choice to breastfeed. When a mother’s family, friends and community support her in breastfeeding she has the best possible situation for nurturing her child – and that benefits all of us.